It looks as if the energy sector will strike out everywhere in 1999. Rock-bottom prices for crude oil and deteriorating rates for natural gas, combined with low chemical prices and weak refinery margins, have sent shudders through the industry. Alan H. Struth, senior economist at Phillips Petroleum Co., says he "can't recall a time when all [parts] of the business were at or near record lows. I don't think anyone thought it would come down to this." Now, the pressure is mounting to find more costs to cut and improve profitability.

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